He has become a popular face both on the mini and wide screen these days. He portrays the role of a youth named Pulasthi in Devinda Kongahage’s latest cinematic venture ‘Bavatharana’ while he takes on an entirely different avatar in Anuruddha Jayasinghe’s teledrama ‘Piyabana Munissam’. Meet Sajeev Rajaputra who breaths life into these two characters.
An entrepreneur by profession Sajeev owns a number of businesses in Sri Lanka and 26 countries abroad. He had spent 27 years of his life in Japan and had even schooled there as a Japanese citizen.
“Acting is one of my inborn talents. I used to observe people closely ever since I was young and can imitate their mannerisms. However I have only taken part in two stage plays during my school days,” Sajeev said.
He had trained in the martial art form kung fu for 11 years. During this process he had developed a spine injury for which he had come to Sri Lanka to seek ayurveda medication. ‘Bavatharana’ director Devinda Kongahage had seen him. Sajeev had long hair and a long beard then.
“As soon as he saw me Devinda realized that I matched the role of Pulasthi, a wildlife photographer in his script perfectly. He clicked a few pictures of me after getting my consent. Later he contacted me and asked me to perform a short scene. He was really satisfied with my presentation. He decided then and there to introduce a new face in a lead role through his movie,” Sajeev explained.
Sajeev had been hesitant to take on such a mammoth task at first especially because of his ailment. However after getting the necessary medication, Sajeev decided to step into Pulasthi’s shoes. He had been unable to walk straight for around seven years due to his spine injury. He notes that he got a new life after becoming well through Pulasthi’s character.
“This is a huge challenge but though acting in front of a camera was alien to me, I did not hesitate to take on this role. I wanted to present the best version of myself for the film,” he noted.
Sajeev had prepared himself for the role by growing his hair and beard for a longer span. He had also noted that Pulasthi lives amid the animals and trees. Though Sajeew had been in contact with many people due to his profession, his spine injury had kept him away from social contact for a span. The loneliness he had faced during these seven years helped him to get under Pulasthi’s skin.
“I was watching a playback of a shot I had played with Malani Fonseka when she approached me from behind and asked me if that had really been the first time I had acted. When I confirmed it is so she said that it is unbelievable and that is why she too had come to witness the scene on the monitor.
“That is one of the most memorable moments while shooting ‘Bavatharana’ for me. I felt like I had won an award when I heard her words. Once when I was going to do a scene with Sriyantha Mendis he joked saying that the person who succeeds in one take has come to act. I felt immense pleasure in hearing his encouraging words. My Sinhala pronunciation was not good when I took on this role. I even wrote the dialogs in English to practice them. I was used to the American accent but to succeed in this role you need to pronounce the dialogs properly with a Sinhala accent. Everyone in the ‘Bavatharana’ team helped me to perfect this. Though I did not expect to be noted by the cinemagoers, I have gotten good feedback from them. It is very heartening,” he said.
Sajeew had also given life to Sir John Kothalawala’s character in the 2018 film ‘Nidahase Piya D S’. Speaking about his role in Suneth Malinga Lokuhewa’s well known film Sajeew says that his father’s grandfather had come to Sri Lanka to be Sir John Kothalawala’s personal security guard.
“I decided to do the role due to the closeness and intimacy between Sir John Kothalawala and my family. My father is Veersingh Shathriya Rajaputra. Shathriya is Prince Siddhartha’s cast while Rajaputra is my generation. I was born on October 31, 1984, the day Indira Gandhi passed away and Rajeev Gandhi became Prime Minister. My father simply changed one letter in Rajeev and named me as Sajeev. Though I have an Indian linage my mother is from the Keppetipola generation. She is Shirani Keppetipola,” he expressed.
Unfurling his thoughts on Shakya Basnayake’s role in ‘Piyabana Munissam’ Sajeev says that many viewers have questioned if there really can be a character like that he portrays for the teledrama.
“Shakya is not a corrupted politician. So that raises a question in their minds. They also ask me if I am getting ready to enter politics. The purpose behind this role is to pave way to nurture the minds of the youngsters so that they will create a positive political environment by choosing good leaders to lead the country in the future. I myself am not interested in entering politics but I wish to lend a hand to any youth whom I feel would contribute to making a corrupt-free political environ for the country,” he said.
He notes that he will take on what he feels that he can in the local arts field and continue his artistic venture.
Sajeev hopes to be a part of a production which will be a Sri Lankan and Indian co-production. He also hopes to direct the project titled ‘Sakura’ which is a collaboration between Sri Lanka and Japan. RJ